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Innovation in the hand towel industry: next generation products from Comax UK and Katrin
The C-Fold towel has been a core part of the hand towel industry for many years and has served it well. However, as the industry makes way for new technologies, better understanding of delivering real benefit is leading organisations to make new product choices - and with good reasons.
Catriona Lee, Marketing coordinator at Comax says: "If we look at the common issues associated with the C-Fold towel... Firstly, there is a 50% chance of loading incorrectly so the towels do not 'self-present', resulting in a high risk of germ cross-contamination from pushing your hand up inside the dispenser. In addition, the towels taken from the dispenser present a very small surface area - users tend to take five or six, not to mention the ones they drop at the same time, so cost-in-use is very high."
New hand towel technology focuses on cost-in-use and improved hygiene, and whilst industry change takes time, Comax UK, an experienced provider of hospitality and janitorial consumables, with considerable experience in the care and hospitality sectors, has already made the decision to remove C-Folds from its product catalogue. The decision was made following substantial feedback from its customers and following discussions with its preferred paper provider, Metsa Tissue.
Explains Graham Moakes, Sales Director at Comax "We knew that spend could be decreased with an interleaved towel because one - or at most - two towels is usually enough.
"In addition, self-presenting products deliver significant hygiene benefits by greatly reducing the risk of cross-contamination - which in turn decreases sick leave and saves money. Add to this the high quality and environmental performance of the Katrin Zig Zag interleaved towels and we knew we had a really good offer for our customers."
Mark Dewick, Sales Director Metsa Tissue UK & Ireland, explains further: "Metsa Tissue is extremely pleased to be working with Comax as it implements this strategic decision," he says. "Innovation is key to competitive advantage in all industries, and now, Katrin makes this decision even easier - by offering the ZigZag towels in an innovative package enhancement called the Handy Pack."
Discussing some of the product's other attributes, Catriona says: "The Katrin Handy Pack is a branded, plastic case, with carry handles which stack easily and the 'carry handles' make it very easy for staff to distribute products around the building, directly from the packs. The new Handy Pack cases are durable and protect the contents from moisture. More importantly, from an environmental perspective, they will produce less waste than traditional cardboard cases. The waste that is produced is completely recyclable. And before recycling, the cases are multi-purpose and can be used for collecting and carrying waste - or lining bins."
Further analysis amongst the existing customer base shows that the Katrin products are delivering other benefits, and that these were actually hitting different hot buttons in different sectors.
"For example, we have a large number of hospitality customers who said that not only were they experiencing up to 10% cost savings, but that there was clearly less wastage," says Catriona. "Bins were being emptied less often - and, most importantly for some of our prestige establishments, the bins were not overflowing in high traffic washrooms - something which can be quite damaging to the brand of a quality outlet."
Other sector benefits that Comax customers have reported, include:
In the care sector, much less time is being spent refilling so there is less demand on already overworked care workers.
In hospitals, reduced waste and less filling was also key but the softness of the products was also perfect for personal care.
In the school sector, less waste, combined with Metsa Tissue's environmental messaging, was a key factor for them. In addition, the narrow width towels are a perfect size for children and also use less paper.
Because the new Katrin towels fit all existing dispensers, the investment is protected and this is also a key factor for customers on product decisions.
"So we have really seen customer enthusiasm for the Katrin Zig Zags," Graham outlines. "In addition, the decision we made reduced our catalogue down from 20 different hand towels to a small but fully functional three towel range. The net result of this is not only better products for our customers but also a dramatic reduction in stock keeping units in our warehouse, helping to keep our logistics operation lean, which in turn helps us to offer very competitive prices on all of our products."
So what do the customers say?
"When offered reduced cost-in-use and better quality at the same time, there really is no reason to say no," says Catriona.
Graham concludes, "C-Fold towels are an important part of the history of this marketplace but our industry has moved on. As industry experts, it is incumbent on us to help customers take full advantage of the benefits available from newer technology and Katrin Zig Zag towels in the fresh Handy Packs are excellent examples of this in action."
T: Graham Moakes, Comax UK, 01202 684111
T: Metsa Tissue 0845 601 8266 / Finland head office Tel: +358 10 4616
7th February 2013